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article imageCDC — Ebola outbreak in Congo could become uncontainable

By Karen Graham     Nov 6, 2018 in Health
Robert Redfield, MD, director for the CDC, said Nov. 5 that if the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ebola outbreak becomes more serious, international public health experts should consider the possibility it can't be brought under control.
Dr. Redfield spoke at a briefing on Capitol Hill Monday hosted by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Redfield spoke of the security risks that have made it difficult to treat and contain the disease, noting that last month, CDC personnel were pulled from the DRC due to safety concerns, including an uptick in violence, according to the Washington Post.
This latest Ebola outbreak began in August and as of November 4, total cases are at 400 with 186 deaths. The CDC warns that if international Ebola containment efforts were to pull out of the DRC, this would mark the first time since 1976 the disease has not been stopped.
Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Director, Tom Inglesby, warned of what could happen if Ebola becomes endemic in the Congo's North Kivu province. Inglesby said this would show "we've lost the ability to trace contacts, stop transmission chains and contain the outbreak."
The struggle to contain the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is facing a &q...
The struggle to contain the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is facing a "perfect storm" of challenges, the UN says
Should this happen, the CDC will have to change its strategy — a situation Redfield says the CDC has "never really confronted." This would also mean the virus could spread unpredictably, and this is only made worse because the outbreak is in an active war zone.
Out of fear, some people who are infected are reluctant to visit treatment centers. One doctor recently wrote that this is the most challenging outbreak response he's seen in 18 years working in the region. Further complicating matters, health care workers are also being infected and it has become increasingly more difficult to track cases.
At least 60 to 80 percent of cases identified have no known epidemiological link to prior cases. The rate of new infections is also increasing. There is now talk of vaccinating broader populations in place of the current vaccination strategy, which is to vaccinate those who have been exposed to Ebola patients.
"I do think this is one of the challenges we’ll have to see, whether we're able to contain, control and end the current outbreak with the current security situation, or do we move into the idea that this becomes more of an endemic Ebola outbreak in this region, which we’ve never really confronted," Dr. Redfield told The Washington Post.
More about ebola outbreak, Democratic Republic of Congo, CDC, uncontainable, endemic Ebola outbreak
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